Ethics Observations On “The Kissing Congressman” Scandal


Passionate Kiss

Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La), a married freshman Republican congressman who campaigned by proclaiming his Christian, pro-family values, was seen  on leaked surveillance video from his district office embracing and kissing the Congressman’s 33-year-old  scheduler, also married, Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock.  McAllister apologized, saying

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness. I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether you’re a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed. From day one, I’ve always tried to be an honest man. I ran for Congress to make a difference and not to just be another politician. I don’t want to make a political statement on this, I would just simply like to say that I’m very sorry for what I’ve done.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Peacock has been dismissed from her job, and reportedly her marriage is shattered.

Some ethics observations:

  • The Congressman is a phony, obviously. His conduct would be a firing offense in any corporate office, and many other places as well.
  • Such conduct by the head of any office or organization creates a presumptive hostile work environment, suggesting to other staffers that career advancement in the office may be subject to being, uh, friendly and cooperative. It is not easy and perhaps impossible to address this problem without removing the individual most responsible. That would be the Congressman.
  • For this reason alone (there are others, like the fact that he has embarrassed himself, his district, the state and his party), McAllister has an obligation to step down, and the Republican party and his constituents should make sure that he does.
  • McAllister is now saying that he wants to run for re-election. Mark that as another reason to get rid of him. He doesn’t care about his high office, the institution of the House of Representatives or the public. He just wants to stay in power. He is, therefore, a self-centered, untrustworthy jerk, who refuses to take responsibility for his actions.
  • Opportunistic Democratic critics, MSNBC party operatives (but I repeat myself!) and reliably partisan pundits like the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank are trying to make the risible case that Peacock’s dismissal is legitimate proof of the GOP’s fantastic “War on Women,” the Democratic phantasmagoria that is becoming more and more like an episode of “Once Upon A Time.”  (Latest hilarious episode: the White House calls down hellfire on the GOP because it won’t support its cynical “equal pay” measures, as it is revealed that White House employees and those of other prominent Democrats show similar or even greater gender salary discrepancies than the fake “77 cents” Democrats have been deceiving the public with for about forty years.) Milbank writes: “It takes chutzpah to observe Equal Pay Day by sacking the low-wage employee you’ve been snogging.” Oh, funny, Dana! …especially the “snogging” part. What is the alternative course you would recommend? Any time, without exception, that an illicit office romance is uncovered, one or both parties have to leave the scene immediately, or the office becomes dysfunctional. I know this is Congress, but…all right, more dysfunctional in this case. A scheduler is easier to replace than a Congressman, or at least easier to replace quickly.  This is just one more example of obvious anti-Republican bias in the news media, if you are keeping score, and if you are keeping score, it means you aren’t a liberal.
  • If Milbank want an example of chutzpah, he can ogle any Democrat or pundit who defended Bill Clinton’s right to get oral sex from an underling in the Oval Office and saw nothing amiss with this same high-level, repeat sexual harasser serving as the official 2012 Democratic National Convention “War on Women Expo” headliner and who is nonetheless trying to tar Republicans with McAllister’s slimy conduct.  In a just world, all such double-standard lovers would be estopped from saying anything about McAllister until or unless they begin with an apology and a confession…

“Yes, I hereby stipulate that the harm caused by a President of the United States who ran on the asset of his unbreakable team of love and governing skill with his wife (“Two for one!”) and who championed new and stronger workplace harassment laws, then surreptitiously  not merely “snogging” an intern but turning her into his personal oral sex assistant, then lying about that under oath, carrying on a long and ugly cover-up that forced members of his cabinet to subscribe to his lies, prompting an impeachment trial in the Senate and a controversy that is in great measure responsible for the yawning partisan chasm today, after which his defense that fellatio “wasn’t sex” proved so appealing to U.S. middle-schoolers that the incidence of   Bill-Monica Non-Sex became epidemic among teens, and respect for the office of the President fell to new lows, was quite a bit more irresponsible, a greater breach of trust, more arrogant and harmful to the nation that a sordid office romance between a Louisianan Congressman nobody outside of the Bayou State knows or cares about.”

  •  I know the counter-argument well: “Oh, but you see such conduct is offensive for Republicans because it’s hypocritical, not because there’s anything objectively wrong with it, because it’s only sex, and besides, it’s personal, and besides, everyone makes mistakes, and besides, look at all the other leaders who have cheated on their wives with subordinates, so everybody does it.” Yes, this is really how Democrats and Bill Clinton (and Hillary) supporters reason.  The decisive rebuttal to this garbage is simply this: the conduct is wrong and inappropriate for an elected representative in high office, no matter who it is, which party he or she belongs to, or what the office. (The additional “…you idiot” is optional, formally discouraged, but awfully tempting.)
  • Rep. McAllister, after his apology, had an aide announce that McAllister will request that House Speaker John Boehner demand a FBI investigation concerning the leak of a video from the security camera. Now this takes chutzpah…but there is nothing unethical about it. Agreed: “I have done a horrible thing, and I apologize, and boy are we going to nail whoever that snitch was who sold me out” just doesn’t resonate very well. Nonetheless, an investigation is the responsible course. What the leaker of the security footage did was illegal, is not a trustworthy employee in a government office, and he or she should be identified and prosecuted.
  • The gleeful media coverage of McAllister’s humiliation has far surpassed any analysis of California’s three indicted Democratic state legislators, and particularly Sen. Yee’s alleged gun-running. I know that McAllister is a U.S. Congressman, but his conduct also wasn’t criminal. The multiple California scandals, involving only Democrats, are far more significant, and in a fair, responsible and objective news media, would have received more thorough coverage. And if I had wings instead of ears, I could fly to Nova Scotia…
  • Speaking of CNN, the McAllister story is just one more news item it is neglecting while it continues its wacky obsession with Malaysia Flight 370. It is like a parody now. This morning I prepared to turn to CNN specifically to see if it was still talking about the missing flight. Yes! BREAKING NEWS! the graphic said. Do you want to know what the “breaking news” was? (I’m not making this up!) There were THREE heart-stopping revelations…

1. The airline dropped in altitude far faster than originally thought!

2. The pilot uttered the last recorded words from the flight, not the co-pilot, as originally reported!

3. There has been another ‘ping,’ making five in all!

Nothing about this story has any impact on American lives, is urgent, or even especially interesting except to the air transportation industry. In order to report it around the clock, CNN is neglecting its obligation as a news network on the dubious theory that this is what its audience wants to see. Well, CNN should become a clone of E! then, and make sure Lindsay Lohan’s travails (She was on Letterman last night, and they pranked Oprah!) and Alec Baldwin’s meltdowns (He sent another homophobic tweet!) always get priority over the meaning of the Obamacare signup numbers, the likelihood of Russia invading the Ukraine, the collapse of any diplomatic efforts John Kerry has his hand in, Lois Lerner being faced with contempt of Congress charges, or anything else the network’s low-information viewers feel would endanger their status as low-information citizens and voters.


Sources: Huffington Post, Washington Post, Jonathan Turley, CBS 1, 2

Graphic: Bonzasheila

42 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On “The Kissing Congressman” Scandal

  1. In private industry, “snogging” while you are on the clock will get you fired instantly. You’re on the clock to do whatever your being paid to do, not snuggle up to your latest squeeze. Obviously, the same standard does not apply to elected officials, many of whom engage in criminal activity while on the clock and at least one of them has never been and likely never will be prosecuted for the crime.

  2. The obvious solution to the problem is to sweep all existing political players out and replace them with new less sophisticated ones. That way we can avoid all the he-did-it-first and it’s-not-as-bad-as for at least as long as it takes the new batch to get caught with their pants down.
    I’m just about to the same
    place as Ablative but I lack his creativity when it comes to expressing myself.

      • At least we’re ethical anarchists to the extent that the label applies at all. There is a world of difference between letting it burn, and lighting the match.

        • Really? So there’s a world of difference between beating a man to death and standing nearby cheering as he gets beaten? Ethically, I’m not sure there’s much difference at all…

          • Mmmm, I’d say there is a difference between being complicit by inaction, or ever being supportive of, and being actively involved in a wrong. I don’t know about a WORLD of difference, all of these are wrong actions or omissions, but in the end the heaviest burden of wrong needs to fall on the guy who actually pulls the trigger/lights the match/whatever. There was a case in which two police officers decided they had had enough of the lip two arrestees were giving them after they broke up a gay lovers’ quarrel.

            One took one arrestee out of the car, restrained him, and simply looked away as the other officer took the mouthier of the two arrestees into an alley and ran his head into a brick wall. The former kept his job. The latter didn’t. (criminal charges were never filed because the arrestees moved out of state shortly thereafter and the county prosecutor couldn’t make a case without them). Have to say, as I oversaw the dismissal of the latter officer, half of me was ok with the thumping he gave the obnoxious arrestee (the mouth on him made Dan Savage look tame), though it didn’t stop me from doing my job and booting this guy.

          • Depends on how the morals are attached Jack.

            A clunky analogy at best… in this case the social/political/economic order is analogous to the beaten man…

            If the man being beaten was a nasty assailant himself, corrupting and ruining those around him, he may have it coming. But even then the analogy doesn’t hold. The Let-It-Burn crowd aren’t calling to overthrow society, but merely claiming society currently in the conditions of overthrowing itself, and trying to stop it is futile and ultimately more painful than letting it happen and repairing the remains.

            So, in your analogy, the Let-It-Burn crowd are not equivalent to the man doing the beating or even a crowd watching the beating… because there is no “Beating Man” in analogy… only a self-destructive individual.

            It’d be more analogous to say “So there’s a world of difference between killing a man and standing nearby cheering as he kills himself? Ethically, I’m not sure there’s much difference at all…”

            But even that is insufficient, because the Let-It-Burn crowd is not actively destroying society. Even more analogous would be a man hell bent on self-destructive behavior to the point of personal ruination, who has refused all attempts at intervention…

            The Let-It-Burn crowd would say “let him hit rock bottom, see his folly, and we can build him up”

            Opposite of that would say “no, keep intervening, keep trying to help him”

            At which point, the Let-It-Burners would reply, “he’s not going to fix himself, all we are doing is prolonging his fall”.

          • World of difference might be overstating the scope of the difference, but I’m sure you’d prefer the anarchists who just stay out of other peoples business to the bomb throwing kind. Those are the ones I was thinking of when I referred to lighting the match. A group with one troublemaker and 99 spectators who neither assist nor hinder the troublemaker is much easier to handle than a group of 100 troublemakers.

            Ethically, there is a difference in kind. I am not responsible for the decisions of others, only for my own. If there is no difference between acting to harm and inaction in the face of someone else committing harm, then there is also no difference between acting to help and inaction in the face of someone else helping. If I’m a just as much of a villain for watching a beating as I would be for beating someone myself , then I’m just as much of a hero for watching someone else save a drowning victim as I would be if I saved them msyelf. It’s far more consistent to assert that doing nothing leaves me neither a villain nor a hero.

          • No, that’s not bba. You are assigning us rigid roles, and you need to have a more PLASTIC view of your commentariat. Your articles, after all, are like the starter’s GUN to our mental processes and I think you’d really hate to KILL debate by pigeonholing us. The onus of leadership is on you, as THE PRESIDENT of this little enclave, after all…

      • I’m not to the Let It Burn stage yet Jack.

        I’m more at the “Make texagg04 temporary dictator” stage… I promise I’ll relinquish power like old Cincinnatus after the problems are solved.

        No really, I will…

  3. Heard someone on the Radio last night outraged that he had apologized to his wife, his kids, his constituants, and the other woman – but isn’t it JUST LIKE a Republican to not apologize to the other woman’s husband? Isn’t HE the one who truly deserves an apology?

    And you know as well as I do that the NSA is already here.

    • Unless there was some coercion involved, and I agree that there is power inequity there, I think it’s condescending in the extreme for him to be the one to apologize to her husband, as if she was a mere pawn or bystander in her own infidelity. She needs to apologize to her husband. Did she apologize to the Congressman’s wife? Is anyone complaining about that? The apologies are all pro forma anyway, and prove nothing. He’s sorry he was caught, and NOT apologizing to the husband could be read as a gesture of respect. They both know he’s not really sorry, and if he gave a damn about the husband, he wouldn’t have been kissing her.

      • It could also be read as a gesture of fear. Frankly if I found my wife had been involved in an affair at work, my first impulse would be to inflict serious bodily harm on both her and the lover, her for breaking her vows, and he for trying to wreck my marriage. However, I doubt I’d follow through. Ah for the days of Dan Sickles and Preston Brooks.

  4. Great post, Jack. Meantime… check for recent email, voicemail and text messages from me. Unless I pissed you off or something.

  5. Ms Hixon Peacock (what a great name!) now has her 15 minutes of fame. I could get outraged about this but in the grand scheme of things who the hell cares! I’m sure the demos will do a lot of harumping about this and make political capital. Meanwhile, Ukraine gets owned by Russia and nobody in power does anything effectual about it.

  6. This morning I prepared to turn to CNN specifically to see if it was still talking about the missing flight. Yes! BREAKING NEWS! the graphic said. Do you want to know what the “breaking news” was? (I’m not making this up!) There were THREE heart-stopping revelations…
    As long as CNN is covering that crap, they don’t have to cover icky stories like the Steve Utash story.…0.0…1ac.1.Vfi1LMV7IGg#authuser=0&gl=us&hl=en&q=steve+utash&tbm=nws

  7. Shouldn’t a story about a hate crime and ethnic intimidation be on national news?
    What’s really funny is, it is on national news, only the national news of countries that it did not happen in.

  8. One more layer to the aftermath, gaining traction in the leftie press: among those bellowing for McAllister’s resignation is Bobby Jindal, who showed no such indignation at David Vitter’s escapades, which were actually illegal as well as unethical. Could it be that McAllister has been one of few Republicans anywhere to criticize their respective governors’ refusal to expand Medicaid coverage and that Jindal’s indignation is grounded more in Machiavellian calculation than in ethical considerations? Nah, I’m sure it was that a fully-clothed kiss is a significantly greater transgression than hiring a prostitute.

      • Earl Long, Edwin Edwards, David Duke, William Jefferson, Bob Livingston, Ray Nagin – I could keep on going. We also gave the US James Carville. So in retrospect… a lot?

          • Carville, not so much…Mary would kill him if he was anything but a straight shooter. Livingston…an extramarital affair is an extramarital affair. Maybe he should be on the list.

          • That’s a good question… I put the list together to point out unethical politicians in Louisiana, corrupt or not. In that light you are correct, Carville shouldn’t be on the list. His ick factor for me is in his work of putting messages together for politicians to club the public with.

  9. In regards to your CNN comment…

    Couldn’t they at least obsess about Ukraine? I think the media has been grossly derelict in adequate reporting on probably the biggest non-American strategic power play since I can remember.

          • But what? I’ve been practically neurotic in my research on Ukraine the past week. Hence my absence from here as of late. I don’t see what further the media wishes to cover up except maybe:

            1) Their progressive love affair with post-modernism and its associated malaise of self-doubt, tepidly castrated attitude towards assertiveness, and intellectually elitist notion that FORCE STILL DECIDES 97% of INTERNATIONAL PROBLEMS.

            2) Related to #1, the desire to hide that those attitudes have left Western Europe and a vast swathe of America ill prepared to handle the fact that there are still people on this planet who are willing to take what they want.

            3) I can’t think of any other reasons without detailing some of the utter tripe I’ve read in my research about Big Oil Conspiracies, Neo-Nazis, Zionists, etc

            All I know, is from what I’ve discovered and heard from people on the ground, the vast majority of Ukrainians (and that includes the falsely labelled separatist regions) DO NOT WANT RUSSIAN overlordship again. In the ‘separatist regions’, a full 80% of those surveyed, want a United, Independent, Unitary Ukraine. Only 13% are malcontents, whose demands range anywhere from the made up “Federalist” vision, to full separation and unification with Russia. The grassroots wants nothing to do with Russia so badly, that they are beginning a new Maidan style protest in Kiev to oust the very government they put in place because that government is NOT responding strongly enough to the separatists and undercover Russian military in the Eastern regions.

            It sickens me that we can’t simply show some damn strength over there and put an end to this before it becomes what it is going to become…

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